For their “persistent protest against nuclear weapons at the Büchel Air Base,” Germany’s prestigious Aachen Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to Marion Küpker (at right in photo) and Elke Koller, and to the organizations they represent. Küpker is the international coordinator of DFG-VK, the German Peace Society, and spokesperson for the “Büchel is Everywhere!” campaign. Koller coordinates the group “Initiative Circle Against Nuclear Weapons.” Küpker, who also coordinates Nonviolent Action for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons which targets the Büchel base, wrote to friends when she heard the news, “I thank all those who have been in Büchel. This prize belongs to all of us!” Küpker’s organizing advocates creative nonviolent civil resistance, and Koller’s group uses more conventional public education. The annual prize comes with a grant of €2,000 ($2,200) and is announced every May 8th, which is celebrated in Germany as “Liberation from Fascism Day.” The award ceremony took place September 1st, the day German trade unions nationwide celebrate as “Anti-War Day.”
BÜCHEL, Germany — Calling themselves “Treaty Enforcement Action,” four peace activists (from the United States, Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands) cut through two perimeter fences and quickly entered the Büchel Air Base here around 4 p.m. July 10, 2019, carrying banners declaring the US and German Air Force’s planned use of nuclear weapons here makes the base a “crime scene.” While posing for photographs, the four were detained by air base security personnel, and later taken to jail in Koblenz and held overnight. All eight were released early Thursday.
Outside the high-security base, four others from the group posted “Crime Scene” notices on the outer fence and along a perimeter bike path. All eight activists were detained by security personnel and found in violation of a “Stay Away Order” issued earlier the same day. For violating that order, the eight were taken into custody, brought to Cochem for a court hearing, and transferred to jail in Koblenz.
The earlier “go-in” Wednesday at the Air Base saw 11 activists walk through the air base’s main gate and try to serve officials there with a self-styled “Treaty Enforcement Order.” The reference is to the international treaties on prohibition of nuclear weapons (2017), on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (1970), and Geneva Conventions which prohibit mass destruction.
The protesters’ order called for the immediate removal of US B61 nuclear bombs from the base, and their prompt return to the United States for dismantlement. The base is the site of the US 702nd Munitions Support Squadron which controls a “Priority Level 1” stockpile of twenty B61 thermo nuclear bombs.
“The nuclear weapons must be removed, not just because they are unlawful, but because of the poor security at the base,” said Marion Küpker, spokesperson for the 68-member German-wide campaign Büchel is Everywhere! Nuclear Weapons-Free Now! “Members of the military and civil police declared several times that nonviolent go-in actions would now be impossible. Soldiers, a new private security company, and civil police are working together closely this year to guard the base, but they failed,” Küpker said, “even after months of publicity announcing that protesters would defy the newly increased base security this July.”
On April 30 this year, a group of 11 peace activists was the first to foil the base’s new fence, when they cut and dug under the wire and steel barrier to gain entry.
This year marks the 3rd time in three years that a delegation of US peace activists has joined Europeans and others in nonviolent actions against the US nuclear weapons. The German group Nonviolent Action for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (GAAA) convenes “International Action Week”, and invites peace groups to conduct nonviolent actions highlighting three goals: 1) permanent ouster of the unlawful US nuclear weapons; 2) cancellation of plans to replace today’s B61s with new nuclear bombs; and 3) ratification by Germany of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
John LaForge, of the US peace group Nukewatch [www.nukewatchinfo.org] and coordinator of the US delegation, said, “There have been hundreds of accidents with nuclear weapons [see the website www.atomkriegausversehen.de(Belgium)], which show that deterrence is an illusion. And, with amateurs like us getting on base, that it’s impossible to keep the weapons themselves secure.”
Wednesday’s daring go-ins follow actions in 2017 and 2018 in which 60 protesters got inside the base, occupying the Air Force’s runway and even three different Protected Aircraft Shelters where the nuclear weapons can be stored. Since then, the military constructed its new perimeter fence.
The eight who were jailed are: Susan Crane, 75, of California; Ralph Hutchinson, 62, of Tennessee; Andrew Lanier, 26, of California; Magriet Bos, 32, of The Netherlands; Dennis DuVall, 77, of Arizona; Richard Barnard, 45, of the UK; Dietrich Gerstner, 54 of Germany; and Susan van der Hijden, 49, of The Netherlands.
For decades, the United States military has deployed its nuclear weapons on German soil. Here in Büchel, the 702nd Munitions Support Squadron is responsible for the deployment and threatened use of its “Priority Level One” stockpile of B61 gravity bombs.
We come from the United States and many other countries to the Büchel Air Base on this 10th of July 2019 to bring a halt to the ongoing criminal conspiracy to commit war crimes using these weapons of mass destruction.
Each and every B61 nuclear bomb is designed and intended to unleash uncontrollable and indiscriminate heat, blast and radiation. Therefore, any planning, preparation, possession, deployment, threat or use of any variant of the B61 nuclear bombs, as a matter of fact, violates peremptory rules of law including the laws of war, the rules and principles of humanitarian law or the Nuremberg Principles. These weapons are a crime against humanity and the planet itself.
As an act of crime prevention and responsible citizenship, we are here to resist the ongoing unlawful conspiracy by the United States and German Air Forces to commit mass destruction. We are here on behalf of everyone who is unaware of the existential threat that such planning poses to life, liberty, and the planet Earth; who are unaware of the binding legal prohibitions that outlaw planning for nuclear war; or who feel powerless to take effective action against the Büchel Air Base’s criminal war planning.
We act in accordance with common humanitarian law, Treaties governing the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and the authoritative opinion of the International Court of Justice, which says: “The Court recognizes…that the use of nuclear weapons could constitute a catastrophe for the environment. The Court also recognizes that the environment is not an abstraction but represents the living space, the quality of life and the very health of human beings, including generations unborn. …The destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in either space or time. They have the potential to destroy all civilization and the entire ecosystem of the planet.
For these reasons, guided by our conscience, the legal authority of the International Court of Justice, and the moral imperative to act residing in each person recognized by the Nuremberg principles, we call upon the personnel, powers and authorities at Büchel Air Base to take all such steps as are necessary to immediately stand down the US B61 nuclear weapons deployed there and to demand the permanent removal from sovereign German soil of these weapons of mass destruction.
Further, we call for these weapons to be returned to the United States of America from whence they came, to the Pantex facility in Amarillo, Texas, for immediate disassembly, dismantlement, and disposal. According to Professor of International Law Anabel L. Dwyer, University of Michigan: “The US, Germany and NATO know that each and every B61-3 and B61-4 nuclear bomb is designed and intended to unleash uncontrollable and indiscriminate heat, blast and radiation. The B61-3 is a 170-kiloton nuclear weapon. The B61-4 is a 50-kiloton weapon. Therefore, any planning, preparation, possession, deployment, threat or use of any variant of the B61 nuclear bomb, as a matter fact, violates peremptory rules of law including the laws of war, the rules and principles of humanitarian law or the Nuremberg Principles.”  Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996, International Court of Justice, The Hague.
BUECHEL, Germany — Eleven international peace activists entered the Büchel Air Base southwest of Frankfurt early this morning to deliver a self-named Treaty Enforcement Order declaring that the sharing of US nuclear weapons at the base is a “criminal conspiracy to commit war crimes.”
Upon entering the base’s main gate with a printed “cease and desist order,” insisted on seeing the base commander to deliver the order in person.
“We refuse to be complicit in this crime,” said Brian Terrell of Voices for Creative Nonviolence in Chicago, Illinois. “We call for the nuclear bombs to be returned to the US immediately. The Germans want these nuclear weapons out of Germany, and so do we.”
The group included people from Germany, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All eleven were detained by military and civilian authorities and were released after providing identification.
This is the third year in a row that a delegation of US peace activists has joined Europeans and others in protesting the US nuclear weapons at Büchel. The local group Nonviolent Action for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (GAAA) convenes the International Action Week, demanding permanent ouster of the US nuclear weapons, cancellation of plans to replace today’s B61s with new hydrogen bombs, and Germany’s ratification of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“Delivery of the ‘Cease and Desist Order’ is an act of crime prevention,” said John LaForge, of the US peace group Nukewatch and coordinator of the US delegation. “The authorities think the entry is a matter of trespass. But these nuclear bomb threats violate the UN Charter, the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” he said, adding, “Interrupting government criminality is a duty of responsible citizenship.”
The activists included: (from the United States) Susan Crane, Richard Bishop, Andrew Lanier, Jr., Brian Terrell, Ralph Hutchison, and Dennis DuVall; (from the UK) Richard Barnard; (from The Netherlands) Margriet Bos, and Susan van der Hijden; and (from Germany) Dietrich Gerstner, and Birke Kleinwächter.
Susan van der Hijden of Amsterdam, who is just back from the US where she visited the Kansas City, Kansas site of a factory working on parts of the new replacement bomb, known as the B61-12. “The planning and training to use the US H-bombs that goes on at Büchel cannot be legal, because organizing mass destruction has been a criminal act since the Nuremberg Trials after WWII,” van der Hijden said.
Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2019
Nukewatch and the German disarmament group Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, have organized a third delegation of US peace activists to the peace camp near Germany’s Büchel Air Base. In 2017, 2018 and again this summer, US peace activists will join the camp’s “International Week,” July 8 to 16, when disarmament campaigners from around the world convene there to confront US and German nuclear war preparations, and demand the ouster of US nuclear weapons from Germany.
The nationwide German coalition “Büchel Is Everywhere! Nuclear Weapons-Free Now!”—a “campaign council” of 68 groups and organizations—has worked for years to rid Germany of the 20 remaining US nuclear weapons, known as B61s, still deployed at the base, located about three hours west of Frankfurt. The coalition, which this year welcomed Nukewatch as its first international member group, demands that the government permanently remove the US nuclear weapons, reject the replacement of the bombs with the planned B61-version 12, and ratify the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons. At present, a classified “nuclear sharing” agreement allows the transfer of US nuclear weapons to Germany, where its Tornado fighter jet pilots threaten and train to drop the B61s if orders come from a US president.
This summer’s delegation includes Brian Terrell, of Maloy, Iowa, representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence; Col. Ann Wright (USAF Ret.) of Veterans For Peace, Hawaii; Cee’Cee’ Anderson, from College Park, Georgia for Women’s Action for New Directions and the watchdog group Alliance for Nuclear Accountability; Susan Crane from the Redwood City Calif. Catholic Worker; Andrew Lanier, Jr., from the San Jose, Calif. Catholic Worker; Ralph Hutchison, Kevin Collins & Cindy Collins, all from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in Knoxville, Tennessee; Richard Bishop from the Missoula Montana Catholic Worker; and Fred Galluccio from Physicians for Social Responsibility in Orange County, California.
Spring “Go-In” Action Sees 17 Nuclear Resisters Defy Air Base’s New Fence
Seventeen peace activists acting in two groups conducted a “go-in” protest April 30th at the base, near the city of Cochem, Germany. The nonviolent action was part of a long-running series of civil protests against the deployment and threatened use of at least 20 US nuclear gravity bombs at the German base. Part of the group of 17 dug under the newly erected second perimeter fence and occupied the space between the two barriers. A second group clipped through both fences and were met inside by German military security personnel.
The April action was the first major civil resistance at the base since authorities, over the winter, constructed the additional 16-kilometer fence around the base. Two fences now enclose the hilltop airport and fighter jet runway, bunkers for the nuclear weapons and jets, base housing, grammar school, and assorted infrastructure facilities.
Most of the 17 activists had participated in previous go-in actions at the base, and all of them were released after being issued “stay away” orders warning them to keep 200 meters distant from the fence line for 24 hours.
This year has seen an increase in court actions taken against the frequent resisters who have occupied the base. Court letters demanding civil forfeitures have been mailed to two dozen of the 70 people who cut or climbed into the base last year. The letters, arriving just before a statute of limitations deadline, can and have been contested by the abolitionists, who are later told to appear for trial.
Over the years, several intrepid resisters have been jailed for short periods for refusing to pay court-ordered fines. The judicial authorities light hand in charging political protesters is in stark contrast to US courts that charge multiple felonies and impose long prison terms for practically identical actions.
Air Force Websites Confirm Open Secret: US Nuclear Weapons Deployed in Germany
US and German military officials never officially admit in public that US nuclear weapons are deployed at the Büchel Air Base. The policy of “neither confirming nor denying” the location of nuclear weapons is a general one common to all nuclear-armed branches of the military. However, the Büchel Air Base website says it is home to the US Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron or MUNSS. The website also declares that the 702nd is “responsible for ownership, custody, maintenance, and release of a protection level 1 stockpile…” (Emphasis added.)
A “protection level 1 stockpile” is air force jargon for a stash of nuclear weapons, as its own open source documents show. The Shaw Air Force Base Instruction 31-102 6, of Dec. 6, 2012, is an Air Force instruction manual available online that openly defines protection level 1 (PL 1). In instruction 4.7.1., it says, “Examples of PL 1 resources include nuclear weapons and … systems critical to the success of active nuclear missions…”